Online Degree Programs in Kansas

There are six public universities in the state of Kansas. The University of Kansas is the largest, with more than 28,000 total students. It is ranked among the top national universities by U.S. News & World Report. Students can choose from 136 undergraduate and 222 masters, doctorate, and professional degree programs. Kansas State University is the second largest, with more than 23,800 students enrolled across its campuses. It is ranked among the top 75 public universities by U.S. News, with a plan in place to become a top 50 public research university by 2025. The remaining state public universities are Wichita State University, Fort Hays State University, Pittsburg State University, and Emporia State University.

Washburn University is another notable institution. The public university is based in Topeka. Students can choose from more than 200 programs leading to certification, associate, bachelor, master’s and juris doctor degrees through the College of Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Applied Studies, Business, Law and Nursing. It is ranked by U.S. News as one of the top universities in the Midwest. Additionally, the state is home to several community colleges, federal and military colleges, and technical schools.

The Kansas Board of Regents oversees the state’s six universities and 32 public higher education institutions, which include seven public universities, 19 community colleges, and six technical colleges. It administers the state’s financial aid, adult education, GED, and career and technical programs. It also authorizes numerous private and out-of-state institutions that operate in the state and administers the Kan-ed network. This statewide network provides broadband Internet access and distance learning capabilities for schools, hospitals, and libraries.

Kansas Distance Learning Initiatives

All six of Kansas’s state public universities currently offer some form of distance learning, from online bachelor degree programs, online masters degree programs, and online doctoral degree programs, to certificates and single courses. Options also range from fully online degree programs in Kansas to blended models, where students attend class both on campus and online. The University of Kansas’s online graduate degree programs are of particular note, with its nursing program recognized by U.S. News as among the top online education programs in the publication’s inaugural ranking of online degree programs from major universities. In addition to eLearning, Wichita State has also branched out into eTexts, joining 27 other schools across the nation in providing free access to an electronic textbook for a number of students as part of the Educause and Internet2 eText pilot.

The state’s public higher education system is currently undergoing a ten-year strategic plan called "Foresight 2020." Under it, the state looks to align its pre K-12 and higher education systems and enhance alignment between higher education institutions; more fully engage adult learners; improve retention and graduation rates; ensure that students earning credentials and degrees across the higher education system possess the foundational skills essential for success in work and in life; align the work of the state’s higher education system with the needs of the Kansas economy; and enhance the regional and national reputation of Kansas universities. As part of the "Foresight 2020" plan, each Regents institution must also develop a strategic vision for the use of distance learning technology and online college degree programs within its mission. At Wichita State, for instance, that has meant appointing a university-wide task force to develop a strategy for online degree programs that is sustainable, hiring an instructional designer, and transitioning the library from a mostly print-based environment to one that builds gateways to electronic databases.